Colorful Answers by Leatrice Eiseman to Questions from Our COLOURlovers Scholarship Winners

For those of you following Leatrice Eisemen’s training schedule, her 4-Day Color Training Program is off to a start this very morning in Burbank, CA. LindaHolt and ModernMuse (aka Michelle Stroescu), the two COLOURlovers who won full and half scholarship for the class back in November are excitedly enjoying their first day of learning and meeting Leatrice.

To tide you all over until we get to do a followup with both Linda and Michelle about the class experience, Leatrice kindly took the time to answer the intriguing questions each winner had asked at the time of receiving the announcement that they had won.

Q & A From LindaHolt

Linda: I would love to know what the process is and what goes into choosing the Color of The Year

Leatrice: I literally travel the world looking for clues.  If I see a color that I think is ascending in importance, I make special note of it and then look for evidence in it gaining momentum.  Fashion is always a good indicator, but it is not the only design area that must be examined.  There are so much creative design areas that must be considered including graphics, the world of art, product design, home furnishings and so on .  Another very important part of the choice is tapping into the “zeitgeist ‘ of the world around us and the emotional message that the color imparts.  For example, with the that big gray elephant  (the economy) still looming large and the concern that is being felt internationally, we would not want to choose a color that could be a “downer’.  Instead we listen to people’s aspirations and try to give them a color that, at least symbolically, satisfies and encourages their needs and hopes.

Linda:  I would like to know if you have had a life long love of color and what was your path to becoming the color guru you are today?

Leatrice: Yes, I was destined to do something with color.  Even as a child, I was super-aware of the presence of color and was always fascinated by it.  I learned early on that wearing separates was the way to go because you could contrive so many more color combinations that way.  I also had a mother who let me have full reign in color choices—even in painting my room.  And I came up with some pretty dramatic combinations.  The proviso was that if and when I got tired of it, it as my job to purchase the paint and make the changes myself!  I started to take design classes very early and then realized that color was not just about fashion and home, but the psychology of color was equally important.  So my degrees are in psychology, but I combined that with design and color was a natural part of that. And for a shortened version of what happened next, I taught color, consulted with various industries, wrote the first of eight books in color, was invited to become the Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute, while at the same time teaching color programs through the Eiseman Center for Color Information and Training.

Q & A: Michelle Stroescu (ModernMuse)

Michelle:  How does Pantone take into account the current social/ political environment when deciding on future color palettes – or do they at all?

Leatrice:  Yes, those factors considered, as they are a vital part of color trends.

Michelle: I tend to believe our economical, political, and social situations by country affect color trends… 

Leatrice:  Again, yes they are.  For example, one of the important areas to look at, especially in this age of mass communication so readily available, are the colors  that are indigenous to a certain country in which a large sporting  event such as the Olympics is going to be held, as most of the  world is anticipating and then watching those events.  Another example: When there is war in any country, or some traumatic event, like 9/11,  in the U.S., it is  quite characteristic of a particular country to turn to the colors of their flag as they are symbolic of patriotism.


Michelle: Did Michelle Obama by chance choose a yellow inauguration suit when that was the same color of the year?

Leatrice:  I truly don’t know for certain why she chose that color–  It could be that she had a stylist who was very savvy about those things and made that suggestion to her or that she inherently understood that the color was symbolic of the hope and optimism that had been do much a part of the Obama campaign.

Michelle: Are there really and truly color meanings related to a person’s personality and characteristics? In color consulting is this taken into account and are they analyzed personally and in business branding solutions…regarding color choices in branding?

Leatrice:  To respond to the first part of the question, yes there are color characteristics that people can relate to their own personalities.  Faber Birren was the first credible resource on this aspect of color and many of his books are still available, although some relating to color in business are somewhat out-dated.  But those relating to the psychology of color are still quite relevant. I have also written about this aspect of color in several of my books, including More Alive With Color and the Color Answer Book.

Michelle:  Of all of the Pantone company’s “Color of The Year,” which color and what year had the most impact on businesses and sales? Is this something that is tracked by business sector? Fashion, home, retailing, advertising, etc?

Leatrice: This question cannot be answered without doing extensive research that would involve tracking each area mentioned. And many companies will not divulge their sales figures, but keep it internal.  Pantone  provides the tools for assigning a color to a product, interior or apparel but does not track how every one of their 2000 plus colors sells in every industry.  That would be a mammoth undertaking. What I have done in the past  (and continue to do) is to track consumers’ responses to specific colors based on color word association studies and I will be discussing those in the class you will be attending…

Michelle:  In my past business “blue” was always the dominant sales color within my customer base. That may be due to the fact that I dealt primarily in young mens and mens businesses…

Leatrice:  And that might have been a very viable reason for using blue—you instincts were correct.  I don’t think I have ever done a line that did not include some shade of blue, as it is still a highly preferred color.

Michelle:  One more question for you that I didn’t give Molly, but it would be really helpful if you could advise in your opinion what would be the most important inclusive, informative text to use in teaching COLOR THEORY to fashion design/marketing students? Currently we use the book COLOR by Zelanski/Fisher.

Leatrice:  That is an excellent resource, but in addition there is a wonderful book by Enid Verity called Colour Observed.  The publisher is MacMillan Press and it was published in 1980 in England. Surprisingly, there aren’t many color photos, but the information is excellent and succinct. You will get a booklist as part of your hand-outs when you attend the class.

Thanks for answering these questions in such detail Leatrice, we can’t wait to hear from Linda and Michelle, post class and full of tons of color knowledge! 

Author: Molly Bermea
Hi! I'm the COLOURlovers Community Curator. I come from a family with five imaginative kids. My mom instilled creativity to the max and you can usually find us scheming together, figuring out new ways to sew, craft or build DIY projects. The core of my artistic bone is in the art of painting.

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